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150 Years of the Berea College Farm

This year, we are celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Berea College Farm! Established in 1871, the Berea College Farm is one of the oldest continuously run educational farms in North America. Now at 500 acres, the Farm serves not only as an enormous classroom for Agriculture and Natural Resources majors and labor students, it is also a laboratory for the latest techniques in sustainable farming. The Farm maintains animal-welfare certifications on several of the livestock enterprises and its produce and grain are USDA certified organic, a value that is just one way Berea College lives out its commitment to mindful and sustainable living in Appalachia.
Hear from some of our alumni who have shared fond memories of their time on the Farm either in their labor position or as an Agriculture and Natural Resrouces major.
"As a freshman in 1947, I was pleased to be assigned to dairy for my labor position. I got up at 4 a.m. on the morning crew, scared up meadowlarks where the Community School now stands, brought the herd down the street to the dairy barn, fed them and cleaned up before heading to Kentucky Hall for breakfast. My brother Bill joined me the next year; by that time, I was doing the milking and Bill carried the milk to the milk room to be strained and refrigerated. I received my B.S. in Vocational Agriculture with a teaching certificate in 1952. After managing the dairy and teaching the agriculture classes at Warren Wilson College, I went on to Iowa State University for my PhD in Animal Breeding. Bill went on to become Berea’s Dean of Labor and I returned to the College as Director of Recreation Extension and the Country Dancers in 1973. Berea College was always a leader in modern agriculture whether in producing milk, developing the Berea Bars breed of chickens, or promoting lean pork. While I was still a student, I bought a Minnesota #1 boar from the College and shipped it to our farm in Georgia."
John M. Ramsay ’52
Bill and John Ramsay on the Dairy Farm
Bill and John Ramsay on the morning crew at the Berea College Dairy, 1949
A Minnesota #1 boar
The Minnesota #1 boar John purchased from Berea College and shipped to Skyland Farm to improve the quality of pork produced in his neighborhood. Note the A-Frame house he built for the pigs.
"My name is Rossana Diaz, I am a former student from Berea College from class of 2016. I was not an agriculture major, I had no experience working at any farm. And I decided to go and work on the farm over the summer, I believe my junior to senior year. And I was very scared because I had no idea about anything related to farm work. And Bob, and many of the other people working there were incredibly patient and nice. Bob and Jamie, were incredibly patient and nice with me. And they were fabulous teachers that taught me things that I still remember. I was terrified of pigs. I was terrified of cattle and that is not a thing anymore. I'm pretty comfortable now with it. And I mean, I haven't been back on a farm ever since, but I wouldn't be opposed. Because the experience that I had at Berea was so was such a teachable experience. It wasn't just a job. It was a teaching experience for me. So I feel pretty comfortable. Now if I have to, I would definitely go to and I dream one day of having my own chickens. And after working on the farm, especially under Bob's teachings, I definitely was able to learn how to deal with chickens. So, I love the farm. I love Berea and I miss it. So thank you, Berea."
Rossana Diaz ’16

More alumni memories at the Farm

Tell us about your time on the Farm

Help us commemorate our sesquicentennial by sharing a fond memory or interesting story about your time on the Farm in your labor position or as an Agriculture and Natural Resources major. Submit your entry in 150 words of text or send us a short video using the form below, no more than two minutes. Sharing your story will help us celebrate this special occasion. Your stories may be used on the ANR website or social media and submitted to our College archives.  

Be part of our year-long celebration of this unique resource by telling us what you learned and how you benefited from your Berea College Farm education. 

Tips for shooting your video:

  • Shoot your video in landscape (horizontal) orientation
  • Record in a well-lit area
  • Avoid backlit settings and direct sunlight
  • Speak clearly and be careful not to obstruct your camera’s microphone
  • Hold the camera as steady as possible while filming. 

*By uploading a video, you authorize Berea College to use all or portions of your video for marketing purposes related to Berea College, the Berea College Farm and the Agriculture and Natural Resources department. 

A Historical Timeline

From a small, 1.5 acre garden established in 1871 to today, read about the growth of the Berea College Farm during its 150 years.
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